ANIMAL SHELTERS & RESCUE
Not every dog or cat is adoptable so we must prioritize and make humane, manageable solutions for stray and abandoned animals.
State laws dictate regulations for shelters and even private rescues. The problem is, these laws are not written by animal husbandry experts, they are written by politicians and veterinarians, often one and the same.
Veterinarians see animal housing as concrete jails, all sterile, and easily washed down. Most animal people are well aware that long term housing on concrete contributes to bone and joint problems, and long term confinement in sterile and un-stimulating quarters also contributes to mental and behavioral problems in all pets.
What is the solution? The facility laws need to be different for long term and short term housing. Boarding kennels need to be easily sterilized between dogs. Rescue facilities and shelters, especially no kill shelters, keep dogs and cats for long periods of time, often for life. These animals need social interaction and recreation, not just jailing.
The financial burden of simply building these dog and cat warehouses is way beyond the usual shelter or rescue group. A long term care facility for 100 or more dogs will run nearly a million dollars.
What is the dilemma? Do we really want to simply kill all the animals that are in shelters that are not concrete? How much time should we give these operators to upgrade or cut their numbers? Who is going to take these dogs and cats and kill them? Certainly not the loving and caring people who have been taking care of them for years and attempting to find them homes. How cruel can the states be?
We, as a group, are incensed when China kills thousands of dogs because of a rabies scare so why are we less outraged when the states cause the death of thousands of dogs who are healthy and well cared for simply because they live on a surface other than concrete? Can we ignore it because we will not see the mounds of dead dog bodies? We will not have to dry the tears of the people who have cared for these dogs as they hold them to be euthanized?
I see part of this as the result of the rush to adopt. Homes are not carefully screened, in many cases fences are not required. Many people in a rush of warm fuzzy feeling adopt dogs they cannot keep or manage. They are adopted out at adoption fairs, then dumped at a different shelter or turned out on the road.
I also see as a vital part of the solution FENCES. Not only spay/neuter but dogs must be fenced. I know this goes against the Norman Rockwell ideal but a big part of the solution to all our real and perceived dog problems is FENCING. Dogs securely fenced in their own yard do not chase cars, bite people, kill livestock, or end up in shelters.
Another vital part of the solution is FREE TRAINING CLASSES in every community. Yet another part of the solution is prioritizing on the part of the rescue or shelter operators. Not every dog or cat is adoptable. Why spend time raising a litter of puppies born to a feral mother, when the puppies and the mother are all unadoptable?
Our hearts go out to the one eyed, the lame, and the sick, but let’s be realistic. Give our time, energy, and prospective homes to the dogs with the best chance to actually make it. There is, in every community, a finite amount of money, volunteers, and homes. If we place 200 dogs in GOOD and permanent homes we have done good work. If, conversely, we place 300 dogs in homes where they will be running the streets, getting hit by cars, and ending up in some other shelter, we have simply made more work for the volunteers, used up a home, and not done anyone much good. Including the dogs we are trying to help.
We need to put our heads together to try to make a humane and manageable solution to the problems of the rescue, shelter, and no kill community.